No. 13 Group RAF
|No. 13 Group RAF|
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Role||Defence of the Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northern England|
|Part of||RAF Fighter Command|
|Garrison/HQ||RAF Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, England|
|Royal Air Force Ensign|
No. 13 Group was a group in the Royal Air Force for various periods in the 20th century. It is most famous for having the responsibility for defending the North of Great Britain during the Battle of Britain.
World War I
No. 13 Group RAF was first formed on 1 April 1918 within No. 3 Area. It was quickly transferred to Midland Area on 8 May of that year. On 18 October 1919 the Group's first existence came to an end when it was disbanded by folding it into No. 3 Group.
World War II
Preparations for War II
As Fighter Command expanded prior to World War II, it was seen that a new Group was needed to command the air defences of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the north of England. 13 Group was duly reformed on 15 March 1939. During the initial stages of World War II, No. 13 Group was Commanded by Air Vice Marshal Richard Saul.
The Dowding System in 13 Group
Like the other groups into which fighter command were divided, no. 13 Group operated the Dowding System of fighter control. The 13 Group HQ was at Kenton, near Newcastle upon Tyne with the Filter Room at nearby Blakelaw Quarry (not Blakelow, as erroneously mentioned previously).
The sector airfields were:
Battle Of Britain
As well as guarding the north during the Battle of Britain, 13 Group also provided reserve squadrons and pilots to the more beleaguered 11 Group, and provided quieter bases for squadrons to recuperate from operations.
The 13 Group also contributed to pilot education by producing its "Forget-Me-Nots for Fighters" brochure that included a foreword by Air Vice-Marshal R.E.Saul.
During the Battle of Britain, the Germans had faulty intelligence indicating that 13 Group had next to no fighters in operation (they believed that the only reason why 11 Group was still holding out was that 13 Group had been sending them down their available aircraft), so they had thought that any attacks made on Scotland would not face any serious resistance. This proved to be a costly mistake for the Luftwaffe, as their bombers were intercepted by a large number of fighters. The bombers could not be escorted all the way to Scotland from Occupied Europe because of the short range of the Messerschmitt 109, so the attacking bombers proved to be fodder for Saul's Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons. On August the 15th 1940 the German air force attempted its one and only daylight flank attack on Northern England. North East England was attacked by 65 Heinkel 111s escorted by 34 Messerschmitt 110s, and RAF Great Driffield was attacked by 50 unescorted Junkers 88s. Out of 115 bombers and 35 fighters sent over 16 bombers and 7 fighters were destroyed (Document 32 Battle of Britain Historical Society).
After the Battle of Britain, 13 Group squadrons helped RAF Coastal Command in patrolling for U-boats and providing air cover for convoys. New pilots would usually find themselves posted to a 13 Group squadron initially so as to gain experience with lesser risk of getting shot down.
After the war, the Group was disbanded on 20 May 1946. However, nine years later it was reformed. It finally disbanded on 31 December 1961 when it was redesignated No. 11 Group.
The following officers had command of No. 13 Group:
1918 to 1919
- 1 April 1918 Unknown
1939 to 1946
- 24 July 1939 Air Vice-Marshal R E Saul
- 4 February 1941 Air Vice-Marshal J O Andrews
- 27 November 1942 Air Vice-Marshal M Henderson
- 15 November 1943 Air Vice-Marshal S F Vincent
- 26 January 1944 Air Commodore J A Boret
- 1945 post vacant
- 7 July 1945 unknown
1955 to 1961
- 16 May 1955 Air Vice-Marshal W G Cheshire
- 1 July 1957 Air Vice-Marshal A Earle
- 9 November 1959 Air Vice-Marshal H J Maguire
- Subterranea Britannica: Research Study Group: Sites: Kenton Bar 13 Group Fighter Command HQ and Region 1 Regional War Room (RAF Blakelaw)
- The Battle of Britain – Home Page
- p.149-190, Fighting in the Air: The official combat technique instructions for British fighter pilots, 1916–1945, RAF Museum series: Volume 7, John Tanner (gen.ed.), RAF Museum, Hendon, London, Arms and Armour Press, 1978